Final two champions crowned in the GSSSA

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Royals junior boys hold off the Sharks; Rattlers senior girls beat the Knights

Simba FrenchSend an emailFebruary 20, 2023 238 2 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 The D.W. Davis Royals junior boys won the GSSSA basketball championship on Friday, defeating the S.C. McPherson Sharks in the third and decisive game. They won 47-43. photos: Simba French

The D.W. Davis Royals junior boys and the C.I. Gibson Rattlers senior girls were able to repeat as champions in their respective divisions in the Government Secondary Schools Sporting Association (GSSSA) best-of-three basketball championships on Friday.

The Rattlers senior girls witnessed their senior boys lifting the championship trophy the night before and came back to the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium looking to do the same. They took care of the C.R. Walker Knights, 45-41, to get the victory in the third and decisive game. The Royals avoided losing two straight games for the first time this season, taking down the S.C. McPherson Sharks, 47-43, in Game Three of their championship series.

Junior Boys

Royals 47, Sharks 43

After getting a wake-up call on Thursday, the Royals came back more focused but still had a tough battle against a pesky Sharks team on Friday. Led by Kami Davis, who had eight points in the second quarter, the Sharks went into halftime with a slim 24-23 lead.

Coming out of the intermission, the Royals played more aggressive on the defensive end and were able to dial-in on their shots. Led by Darius Hanna and Kamal Miller with four points each, they were able to put up 13 points in the third quarter while holding the Sharks to nine. The Royals went up 36-33 heading into the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, the Royals turned up their defense another notch, forcing Davis and the Sharks to earn their points. All four of Davis’ points in the final period came from the charity stripe.

After their Game One victory, Royals’ Head Coach Mark Hanna joked that his son, Darius Hanna, owed him a championship after he lost a championship game the day he was born. Darius scored five points in the final period including a three-point shot to lift the Royals.

The younger Hanna finished with 17 points to deliver his father a championship, and as a bonus, he won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy. Miller scored 11 points with seven coming in the second half.

Davis had a game-high 18 points for the Sharks.

For the Royals, it’s their sixth straight GSSSA junior boys basketball title.

Senior Girls

Rattlers 45, Knights 41

In this series, two evenly matched teams played their hearts out for a championship but only one could lift the trophy. That team was the Rattlers as they had a stronger second half in the third and decisive game, especially in the fourth quarter.

Rattlers’ Head Coach Kevin ‘KJ’ Johnson was looking for his team to bring the same defense and intensity that they had in the second game on Thursday night.

However, early in the first quarter, it was the Knights who would take command. They led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Knights withstood a challenge from the Rattlers in the second quarter and led 25-21 at the half.

At the end of the third quarter, the Knights held a slim 35-33 lead.

Johnson had to wait until the fourth quarter to see the defense he wanted to see from his team as they held the Knights two key players, Shenell Steward and Brianna Hanna, to just two points each in that stanza. The Rattlers scored 12 points in that final period and held the Knights to just six points.

Francis won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the Rattlers. She finished with a game-high 24 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter. Her teammate Phillpps Ferguson scored 14 points.

Stewart’s 19 points was not enough for the Knights as they fell short.

The Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic, featuring the best senior boys basketball teams in the country, gets underway today at the Kendal Isaacs gymnasium.

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